Call To Arms: Employers Urged To Use Employee Assistance Programs To Help Veterans Shift From War Zone To Workplace

                               

The Disability Management Employer Coalition, along with leading insurers, offer employers free guide to help soldiers tackle work, life challenges after deployment

Simsbury, CT  (CompNewsNetwork) - One in four U.S. service members in Iraq and Afghanistan are National Guard members and Reservists, the largest deployment of civilian soldiers since World War II.  While federal law requires that there is a job waiting when they return to U.S. soil, veterans have found the shift from battlefield to the business world can be traumatic and challenging.

The challenge is to soldiers' minds, as well as their bodies. Three out of five veterans experience post traumatic stress disorder to some degree, according to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. And for every one soldier killed in combat in Iraq and Afghanistan and nearby areas, at least eight and as many as 16 are wounded or disabled, with injuries including amputations and brain injury. In addition, more than 20 percent of citizen soldiers have been deployed more than once since 2001, meaning they have made the leap from war zone to workplace repeatedly.

Employers can help America's heroes succeed in the workplace by offering employee assistance and mentoring programs, advised the Workplace Warrior Think Tank - the first-of-its-kind group launched by the Disability Management Employer Coalition (DMEC), the leading developer of employee health and productivity strategies, and three of the nation's leading disability insurers - The Hartford Financial Services Group, Inc. (NYSE: HIG), MetLife and Unum.

Today, the think tank is providing its recommendations to employers in a free guide, "Workplace Warrior: The Corporate Response to Deployment and Reintegration," that is available here (see linked article) or on the DMEC website (http://www.dmec.org/).

"The U.S. military involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan has created long-term medical and disability issues for returning veterans. To retain these valuable employees and benefit from their knowledge, abilities and experience, a comprehensive response is needed by employers," said Marcia Carruthers, chief executive officer of DMEC and think tank co-chair.

"One effective way that employers can assist veterans is employing an Employee Assistance Program to tackle the major health, work and family challenges resulting from a lengthy overseas assignment in a combat zone," said Carol Harnett, vice president and national disability and life practice leader for The Hartford and co-chair of the Workplace Warrior Think Tank.

Another highly effective tool to support the successful reintegration of civilian soldiers is a mentoring program that links them with veterans within the workforce. The commonality of military experience may forge bonds among colleagues. "Virtually any employer can provide mentoring by other veterans - at any level and for very little cost," said think tank participant Andrew R. Gilbert, a military veteran who founded a forum at his employer Booz Allen Hamilton.

In addition, the Workplace Warrior Think Tank recommends employers celebrate employees' return to the workplace, recap changes that occurred while they were gone, and educate supervisors about these "red flags" of potential problems:

      Arriving at work later than normal or leaving early on a regular basis 

      Withdrawing from or avoiding co-workers

      Exhibiting outbursts of anger or increased irritability with colleagues

      Startling easily or seeming anxious

      Reporting sleeping difficulties or appearing to be tired

      Experiencing difficulty in performing duties.

The Workplace Warrior Think Tank, which convened in November 2007, brought together experts in disability management, human resources and benefit plan design, as well as military veterans who are now corporate leaders.  DMEC and The Hartford co-authored two white papers, a concise version and a more detailed one.

About DMEC
The Disability Management Employer Coalition, Inc. (DMEC) is a nonprofit, employer-focused professional association founded in 1992 to advance the development of integrated absence and disability management. Its mission is to provide educational resources for members in the areas of disability, absence, health, and productivity through international, regional, and state chapters; annual conferences; publications; training programs and practical tools. Visit DMEC on the Web at http://www.dmec.org/.

About The Hartford
The Hartford, a Fortune 100 company, is one of the nation's largest diversified financial services companies, with 2007 revenues of $25.9 billion.  The Hartford is a leading provider of investment products, life insurance and group benefits; automobile and homeowners products; and business property and casualty insurance.  International operations are located in Japan, Brazil and the United Kingdom. The Hartford's Internet address is http://www.thehartford.com/.

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